Keeping It Right

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Location: Moreno Valley, CA

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NY Times: Flava Cigs Out..Except for Menthols...

Let me get this straight, they are gonna get rid of flavor cigarettes, except for the Menthol flavored ones..The flavor that is used by a huge proportion of blacks. A democratic led congress passed a bill to continue a type of cigarette that will continue to be a cause of cancer for blacks. Interesting....


NY Times: Cigarette Bill Treats Menthol With Leniency

Some public health experts are questioning why menthol, the most widely used cigarette flavoring and the most popular cigarette choice of African-American smokers, is receiving special protection as Congress tries to regulate tobacco for the first time.

The legislation, which would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to oversee tobacco products, would try to reduce smoking’s allure to young people by banning most flavored cigarettes, including clove and cinnamon.

But those new strictures would exempt menthol - even though menthol masks the harsh taste of cigarettes for beginners and may make it harder for the addicted to kick the smoking habit. For years, public health authorities have worried that menthol might be a factor in high cancer rates in African-Americans.

The reason menthol is seen as politically off limits, despite those concerns, is that mentholated brands are so crucial to the American cigarette industry. They make up more than one-fourth of the $70 billion American cigarette market and are becoming increasingly important to the industry leader, Philip Morris USA, without whose lobbying support the legislation might have no chance of passage.

“I would have been in favor of banning menthol,” said Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, who supports the bill. “But as a practical matter that simply wasn’t doable.”

Even the head of the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, a nonprofit group that has been adamantly against menthol, acknowledges that the ingredient needed to be off the bargaining table - for now - because he does not want to imperil the bill’s chances.

“The bottom line is we want the legislation,” said William S. Robinson, the group’s executive director. “But we want to reserve the right to address this issue at some critical point because of the percentage of people of African descent who use mentholated products.”

Supporters of the tobacco legislation, including the Senate bill’s sponsor, Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, say the bill addresses the potential health risks of menthol by giving the F.D.A. the authority to remove cigarette additives, including menthol, if they are proved harmful.

To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/13/business/13menthol.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp


More from the NY Times, "A Flavoring Seen as a Means of Marketing to Blacks," http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/13/business/13mentholside.html

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